With no talks scheduled between the WGA and ATA and just two days to go before the expiration of their franchise agreement, the two sides haven’t even reserved a conference room at the Beverly Hilton, where they’ve been holding their bargaining sessions. “Not at this moment,” said a source at the hotel.
That’s almost the same answer a source close to the stalled talks said just minutes ago when asked if there are any plans to resume the negotiations: “Not at this point.”
Their deal is set to expire at midnight PT Saturday.
The Writers Guild and Association of Talent Agents haven’t met at the bargaining table since March 27, after which the Association of Talent Agents accused the WGA of threatening to throw “our industry into chaos,” and the guild saying, “The agencies ignored everything we presented.”
The talks, which got underway on February 5, have not made any progress at all on resolving the two main issues: the WGA’s demands that agencies give up packaging fees and sever their corporate ties to affiliated production entities.
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WGA members voted overwhelmingly last weekend to authorize their leaders to implement a new Agency Code of Conduct if no deal is reached by Saturday night at midnight. If no agreement is reached on a new franchise agreement, the WGA could order all of their members to fire their agents as soon as Sunday morning. Only agents who sign the Code would be exempted, and all of the major agencies have pledged that they won’t sign.
WGA members, meanwhile, are even more fired up about firing all their agents next week than they were about going on strike against the film and TV industry two years ago – and they were pretty revved up then, too.
In April 2017, some 6,077 writers voted to authorize a strike, but last weekend, 7,882 voted to authorize the guild to call for a walkout on agents — that’s 31% higher than the strike-authorization vote two years ago. A strike was averted two years ago after intense bargaining that went right up to and past the expiration of the contract.
Last Sunday, after the vote for the new Code was announced, the ATA said: “We look forward to getting back into the room to work through an agreement that serves the best interest of writers, respects their individual choice, and prevents unnecessary disruption to our industry. We stand ready and waiting.”
Last night, the guild told its members that it “has not heard from the ATA since we gave them a comprehensive new proposal last week, although we’ve had communication with significant individual agencies.” The guild also said yesterday that it had sent the ATA “further modifications of our proposals,” but acknowledged that “none of them is major.”
Here’s a map with directions to the Beverly Hilton, where there are still conference rooms available.
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